Archive for May, 2013

I spend a lot of time thinking about the future.  Probably more than I should as I try to figure out what the Next Big Thing is going to be.  I actually lie in bed late at night wondering if Graphene is ever going to take off.  Truth be told I also lie in bed wondering who is going to get voted off the Voice so that in of itself may not be that impressive.  But I do, however, dedicate a disproportionate amount of brain power during the day to thinking about the benefits we could one day see from synthetic biology, quantum computers, and Bitcoins.  I literally count down the days until Google Glass comes out the way that people used to count down the days until the Olsen Twins were legal.  (Hopefully, Google Glass will have more staying power than the Olsen Twins did.)

I do all this while simultaneously keeping on eye on the other moonshots that Google X is working on not to mention all of the latest developments involving Elon Musk’s companies Solar City and Tesla.  I gaze into my proverbial crystal ball and try to envision how life will be in the not too distant future once we are fully engrossed in a society driven by the Internet of Things.  I fear living in a real life version of Battlestar Galactica, subservient to robot overlords, yet at the same time I marvel at pet drones and the latest advances in robotics.  I do all this and more because I am and always will be a futurist.

So it should come as no surprise that I’ve been keeping very close tabs on 3-D printing as this is something that I think has the ability to disrupt multiple industries and fundamentally change our lives in ways we can’t even begin to imagine.  When I think about all of the great ideas that I’ve covered so far on this blog (over 200 hundred and counting) the one that I think can actually make the biggest impact on our day to day lives by the end of this decade is 3-D printing.

There is, however, a line that needs to be crossed before that happens.  A certain threshold that we’d have to break through before we start seeing 3-D printers in every home.  Basically, the 3-D printing revolution needs a kick start.  It needs a so-called killer app that makes it a must have device.  Something that brings it out from the garages of “makers” and into the living rooms of families.  In my opinion that threshold that we have to cross is the threshold of exposure.

You see, 3-d printers have actually been around for decades, something that I was shocked to discover.  This isn’t a new phenomenon.  It’s just become more mainstream as the price point has dropped.  And now that incredible new uses and applications are being unveiled on a seemingly daily basis it’s starting to really gain momentum.  But what it has in hype it lacks in practicality.  As much as I love the idea of a 3-D printer I actually have no desire to own one myself.

That’s primarily because I’ve never even used one.  I don’t even know where to go to see one in action.  You can’t miss what you don’t have and therein lies the rub.  But now thanks to the Dreambox, a new 3-D printing vending machine that prints out the items that you need rather than serve up snacks, the promise of 3-D printing can now be shown to everyday citizens like you and me.  According to an article on CNET Dreambox CEO David Pastewka agrees: “Getting people exposed to 3D printing and what it can do will hopefully encourage people to create their own models and solve their own problems…”

So, while it may not cure your late night snack attack this machine may come in handy in other more practical ways.  Like in bringing 3-D printing into the mainstream and making is something that we all can’t live without.  Boom.  Lock it up.  Championship.  3-D printing has arrived.  The threshold has officially been crossed.

Now if you’ll excuse me it’s almost time to start worrying about Graphene again.


Is the creation of a 3-D printing snack machine what we need to make 3-D printing mainstream?

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Earlier this morning I came across an article discussing a new technology with the power (pun intended) to change the World.  And yet it’s shocking how little attention this ground breaking item has received.  Perhaps it’s because the internet was tied up all day obsessing over the JC Penney billboard advertisement for a kettle that looks like Hitler.  See below:


Or maybe it’s because we’ve all been transfixed by the phenomenon that is Amanda Bynes’ blonde wig:


Regardless, I find it astonishing that nobody is paying any mind to Thorium, the new alternative to Uranium that is now set to power new reactors in Chile and Indonesia.  (http://m.smartplanet.com/blog/bulletin/thorium-reactors-could-soon-power-indonesia-chile/20588).

Although it sounds like something that hails from Aasgaard I can ensure you that Thorium is definitely real and definitely found here on Earth where it offers many advantages over Uranium.  According to the article from smart planet those reasons are, “it’s safer, there’s about four times more of it on Earth, it leaves less long-lived waste, and it’s comparatively difficult to fashion a bomb from its waste.”

While that last part may upset Hollywood screen writers looking to recycle the idea of rogue nuclear weapons as the plot of a Summer blockbuster the rest of the World should rejoice.  For within a few years we may be looking at a cleaner, cheaper way to power our cities especially those in remote parts of the World.  Chile and Indonesia may be the first cities to become aligned with this new technology but they won’t be the last.  Change is coming.

So have fun obsessing over inanimate objects that look like people.  Spend all your free time following the latest meme.  It’s okay.  I understand.  But just do me a favor.  When Thorium’s moment in the sun comes, and believe me it is coming, just remember that you heard it here first.  Until then you may want to check out this blind puppy that the internet is about to go crazy for.


What’s better? Thorium?!?!?! Or this blind puppy?

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While you were enjoying a BBQ this holiday weekend these inventors were busy changing the World:

3D Printed Sneakers – In my free advice column a few weeks ago (https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2013/05/12/204-free-advice/) I suggested that Nike make sneakers that could be fully customized for each user.  Looks like Pensar Development took me up on my offer utilizing 3D printing to make the perfect shoe:  http://www.tuvie.com/dna-3d-printed-shoe-system-creates-shoes-that-fit-you-and-your-body-movement/.

As the article from Tuvie states, “this project aims to design and create footwear based on individual anatomy and biomehanics. This concept project enhances rapidmanufacturing to create shoes especially for you, not only to your foot contours but also how you move with it.”


Mood rings updated – A few weeks ago I also wrote about wanting to update mood rings and turn them into relationship rings: (https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/152-relationship-rings/).  It seems like the W/Me wristband beat me to it:  http://techcrunch.com/2013/05/27/the-mood-ring-gets-its-quantified-self-update-with-the-wme-wristband/.

According to techcrunch, “The W/Me wristband is based around a sensor that monitors your body’s automatic nervous system, providing feedback on body activity that you may not be at all aware of, including breathing patterns and heart rate, to let you know about automatic reactions you may be having that are detrimental to your state of health or physical wellbeing. Then, with rhythmic breathing exercises, the idea is that you’ll be able to correct these negative patterns and improve your general health and mood for the better.”


Faster internet speed because of noise cancelling headphones – I tried to use noise cancelling headphones a few weeks ago but due to my supersonic hearing I could still hear everything that was happening around me.  Turns out that the technology isn’t all for naught though.  Quite the contrary.  In fact, according to venture beat it may be able blow Google Fiber out of the water delivering internet connections that are 400x times faster: http://venturebeat.com/2013/05/27/noise-canceling-tech-could-lead-to-internet-connections-400x-faster-than-google-fiber/.

As the article says, “At the receiver, if you superimpose the two waves, then all the distortions will magically cancel each other out, so you obtain the original signal back,” Liu told the BBC. “This concept, looking back, is quite easy to understand, but surprisingly, nobody did this before.”

Kind of makes you wonder what else we’re overlooking.


Pet drone that follows you around – If Google Glass doesn’t catch on maybe a pet drone that follows you around recording your every move will. (http://www.popsci.com/interstitial-ad/ad?destination=node/73893&duration=10)

As the article in Popular Science says, “Parekh’s early Pet AR.Drone prototype uses artificial intelligence algorithms to track a person, follow him or her around from a safe distance, and film the journey.”


Trash powered cleaning robot – A real life Wall-E!  Where do I sign up? (http://www.bitrebels.com/technology/trash-powered-cleaning-robot-clean/).

According to Bit Rebels, “This particular cleaning robot concept design is especially interesting because it’s powered by trash. In other words, it’s sustained by utilizing the very substances that it cleans up. It uses a process called microbial electrolysis, which means it uses bacteria as its power source.”


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The other day I had my first appointment with a new dentist.  He wound up talking me into getting some work done that as it turns out wasn’t covered by my insurance leaving me on the hook for over a thousand dollars.  As I was leaving the office contemplating whether to take the elevator or to jump out the window this cute girl started to talk to me going on and on about this cleaning that she just had done.  The Universe works in mysterious ways.  Just as I was handed a bit of bad news here was this beautiful woman practically throwing herself at me giving me a chance to turn my luck around.  But of course this is me we’re talking about.  I was so preoccupied with how I had just been bamboozled that by the time I realized she had been flirting with me she was long gone.  In a span of about ten minutes I had lost a thousand dollars and the love of my life.

On my way back to the office I began to lament my fate.  Cursing the licorice nib Gods for ruining my teeth in the first place.  Blaming myself for getting played.  Wondering if this was somehow part of an elaborate dental Ponzi scheme involving the makers of Colgate toothpaste.  When suddenly it dawned on me.  I shouldn’t be mad.  I should be thankful.  For this entire ordeal gave me a great idea.

Before I get to that though I have to give dentists the proper credit that they deserve.  They may not be smart enough to get into medical school but they have concocted a full proof plan: the six month check-up.   You see, if it wasn’t for my checkup I wouldn’t have even been scheduled for dental work that day.  I had no discomfort or pain.  I had no idea that I even had a cavity until they told me and even then I still have no choice but to take their word for it.  Thanks to the six month check-up they have a steady flow of business no questions asked.

Which brings me to my idea although it’s really more of a question.  Why is it that other branches of medicine don’t also require six month check-ups?  Isn’t my eye sight just as important as my teeth?  And yet I get my eyes checked far less frequently than my teeth.  Speaking of eye sight I wear glasses because my vision is slightly less than perfect.  I also have a hard time hearing sometimes and yet I don’t wear a hearing aide.  Why is it that a lot of people wear glasses by choice but no one wears a hearing aide by choice?  Am I supposed to believe that we all have perfect hearing?

Moreover, what about our backs and our muscles?  Why do we only seek help for these parts of our body when we’re in pain?  Why don’t chiropractors necessitate annual checkups?  Why is it that I’ve never been to a dermatologist in my entire life?  Am I to believe that I have flawless skin?  That I’m some kind of undercover Revlon model?  And don’t even get me started on bowel movements.

Clearly the human body requires a significant amount of upkeep and it’s shocking how much of it is neglected.  The dentists may have been the first to set up shop but we shouldn’t let them be the last.  We should follow their lead and make sure to get everything checked out across the board.  Ignore your teeth and they’ll go away is what the sign in my dentist’s office used to say.  That sentiment holds true for the rest of your body too.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have a missed connections ad to post on Craigslist.


Why is it that we care more about our teeth than our muscles or skin?

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I’m young and single.  I live about a ten minute subway ride away from New York City.  It’s a Friday night.  And it’s my birthday.  I should be out and about, living it up, celebrating with my friends or at least trying to get laid.  Instead I’m sitting at home in my pajamas blogging.  Now, I’m not telling you this to lament my fate or have a pity party.  Rather, I’m telling you this to appropriately frame the hype that I am about to bestow upon the idea that I’m about to tell you about.  For this idea is so great, so profound, so revolutionary, that it’s worth giving up a Friday night in New York City on ones own birthday to tell you about.  And that idea is none other than:  3D printing.

But not just ordinary, run of the mill 3D printing mind you.  Nor is it the potentially world changing ability to end hunger by printing food as I wrote about the other day.  No, this is something else entirely.  This is a whole new method of production.  A whole new way of doing things that opens up a whole multitude of new possibilities.  Ladies and gentlemen without further adieu I give to you  the Mataerial printer which according to Fast Company, “squeezes polymers from a nozzle in a way that’s reminiscent of how bakers squeeze icing from a tube to frost a cake.”

Mataerial was created by designers Petr Novikov and Sasa Jokic who felt that the current layering process employed by 3D printers was horribly inefficient because, “they require the presence of a support structure to prop up an object as it’s printed, which restricts the printing process to horizontal surfaces. Plus the technique can increase the printing time, the use of materials, and the risk of damaging an object when removing it from its support structure.”

So instead they created something entirely new that uses fibers instead of layers.  Utilizing a set of liquid polymers that quickly harden when mixed together their invention, “allows for precise control over color and width of the tube, in real time as it’s printed. Syringes with cyan, magenta, yellow, and black coloring connect to the tube, and changing the proportions allows for customization of the color. Slowing down the robotic arm can also change the thickness of the tube.”

And here’s the best part:  “we did an investigation and we are pretty sure that this could be used as 3-D printer in zero gravity.”  Now that’s what I’m talking about!  The cost of building a colony on Mars just dropped dramatically.  You won’t need to transport all the materials you need.  You could just print them out!  Game changed.  Novikov and Sasa just became the Eli Whitney of the 3D printing revolution.  See, I told you that was worth staying in on a Friday night for.


The new Mataerial 3D printing method figures to change the World.

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You have seventeen missed calls. You haven’t slept in two days. You’re starting to smell like a gym locker room. It’s been about eight hours since you last went to the bathroom. In short, you are a hot mess. And as far as you are concerned it’s all worth it because you are about to finish Halo 4. And then suddenly tragedy strikes. Just as you are about to complete the last level your annoying younger sibling walks into the room, shouts “XBox watch ESPN”, and you watch in horror as Stuart Scott’s lazy eye instantaneously appears on screen in front of you. You let out a primal scream and proceed to spend the next twenty minutes chasing your sibling around the house like Tom and Jerry. Eventually, the sheer exhaustion from not having slept for 48 hours catches up with you and you pass out on the living room floor. Due to the foul odor being omitted from your body from not having showered your cat mistakes you for a litter box. Is this the future of gaming?

It may very well be thanks to Microsoft’s latest offering, XBox One, which is set to be unveiled later this year. This amazing do everything home entertainment system will feature a myriad of new tricks designed to win the hearts and minds of hardcore gamers and TV viewers alike. In addition to the voice activated commands that will allow for seamless transitions between playing games and watching TV the XBox One will also allow you to surf the web or use apps while watching TV. In fact, thanks to a partnership with the NFL you’ll even be able to overlay your fantasy team’s stats onto your screen while watching a game. And that’s not all. You’ll also be able to use Skype, see what is trending across the XBOX live network and create a favorites view to easily access the shows that you care the most about. Essentially, Microsoft has created a multi-purpose system capable of giving you a fully customizable experience that is perfectly tailored to suit your personality.

By taking this approach and creating something for everyone not just gamers the XBOX One has positioned itself nicely to take control of your living room. As Wired magazine said, “We have no idea what the videogame landscape will look like seven years from now, just as we had no idea in 2005 how foundationally streaming and smartphones would change everything. The very concept of any physical media box may well be obsolete within a decade. But even if this is the last true console we ever see, one thing is for sure: Gaming isn’t just games anymore. And the Xbox One intends to keep it that way.”

The only question that remains at this point is whether or not this approach is going to work. Sure the XBox One sounds cool at first glance but if this functionality is easily duplicated by competitors or if the actual gaming aspect doesn’t vastly improve existing game play it may not matter. Not to mention that Apple has long been rumored to be working on a similar product that could knock the XBox One from its pedestal if it ever comes out.

For now though by being the first of the new era home entertainment systems to come out Microsoft is sure to grab an early lead in market share. Time will tell if they have developed a truly revolutionary new way to consume media or just a fancier TiVo. Either way sibling rivalries are about to heat up.


Is the XBOX One going to revolutionize the living room?

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The news regarding Google Glass continues to fly in on a daily basis so here’s another look at all of the comings and goings regarding this amazing technology:

Did you know that it actually already existed several years ago!

The idea of wearable computers is nothing new, and a team that explored Antarctica actually had their own pair of “Glass” long before it was en vogue.



Now it’s here to stay but can it survived getting mocked?

“The constant compulsion to use head gestures to mimic the actions that he wants Glass to make render Armisen’s character — supposed tech expert Randall Meeks — someone whom children would cross the street to avoid.”


 If so can it add value to the workplace?

“Apple didn’t originally market the iPhone or the iPad as business tools, but that’s exactly what they’ve become. So what about Google Glass? Is it the next enterprise Trojan Horse?

It may seem unlikely. But several companies are already working to bring enterprise applications to Glass. And even if glass goes the way of the Apple Newton and Danger Sidekick, these early experiments could lay the groundwork for the future of augmented reality in the workplace.”



And more importantly can we figure out a way to use it politely?

 “I’m looking forward to the day when Glass is so ubiquitous that wearing one doesn’t make you look like a cyborg. But, at the moment, I’m a little concerned. New technology has a way of bringing out our rude and annoying side—just think of the guy who walked into you while composing a text or the woman in line at the dry cleaner who was shouting into her cellphone. And because Glass is a wearable device that calls attention to itself, you early ambassadors have to be on extremely good behavior. I’d hate for you to squander any goodwill toward Glass before the rest of us have a go at it.”



Regardless will there be a version for people who already wear glasses!??!!

 “Wearing prescription Google Glass is no harder than [dealing with] sunglasses,” said Glass engineer Adam Haberlach


 Google Glass for eyeglass wearers

 Stay tuned for more news about Google Glass at it happens.

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